welcome to the fifty best spirits of 2004

 

              The Fifty Best   Presents

 

Wine Enthusiast Magazine
50 Best Spirits of 2004

Page 5  - VODKA & GIN

Level Vodka
Spirit of Absolut
(Sweden; Absolut Spirits Co., New York, NY)
40% abv,  $29.  9095
SUPERB / Highly Recommended
The aroma is bittersweet, concentrated, oily/fatty and kernel-like followed by a totally dry, clean fragrance of dry cereal. Palate entry is rich and grainy sweet; at midpalate, the taste is enhanced by an oily, viscous texture. Flavor intensity fades in the finish. A superb unflavored vodka that’s going to turn lots of heads.

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The Jewel of Russia
Ultra Vodka
(Russia; BMC Imports, Stamford, CT)
40% abv,  $66.  9095
SUPERB / Highly Recommended
The delicate perfume is softly grainy, with nuances of white pepper, wheat crackers and cigarette tobacco. The palate entry is elegant yet a touch hot; at midpalate the dry flavor turns silky in texture and minerally and stone-like in taste. Concludes bean- and kernel-like, bittersweet and a touch soy curd-like. A subtle, understated vodka with lots of layers and grip.

 

Wyborowa
Single Estate Vodka
(Poland; Pernod Ricard USA, White Plains, NY)
40% abv,  $30.  9095
SUPERB / Highly Recommended
Produced from 100% rye that’s cultivated on one estate. Delightful spicy, tar and asphalt-like, mineral-like aroma; air contact stimulates more buttery scents including almond paste and traditional rye bread. Palate entry is clean, spicy, stone-like and off-dry; at midpalate the intensely spicy-peppery quality of the rye is highlighted. Ends in a flurry of minerals, black pepper and off-dry cereal.

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Shakers
Rose Flavored Vodka
(USA; Infinite Spirits, Princeton, MN)
32.5% abv,  $33.  96100
CLASSIC (96-100)/Highest Recommendation
Exquisite pastel pink hue. Opening whiffs pick up an intense aroma of uncut red roses; aeration deepens the floral perfume and adds traces of rosewater and berries. Palate entry is delicate, floral, perfumed and off-dry; at midpalate a definite grainy sweetness enhances the rich rose-petal flavor. Finishes gently floral and clean.

Vincent Van Gogh
Coconut Flavored Vodka
(Holland; Luctor International, Reno, NV)
35% abv,  $30.  96100
CLASSIC / Highest Recommendation
The coconut essence in the first whiffs is astonishingly authentic; time in the glass deepens the richness/oiliness of the coconut meat fragrance. Palate entry is dry to off-dry and delectably creamy/oily; at midpalate the coconut meat flavor reaches its peak freshness and soft bitterness level. Ends semisweet, viscous and creamy.

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Belvedere
Pomarańcza
Orange Flavored Vodka
(Poland; Millennium Imports LLC, Minneapolis, MN)
40% abv,  $33.  9095
SUPERB / Highly Recommended
Initial nosings pick up delightfully fruity, delicate and semisweet aromas of orange rind and pulp. Palate entry taste is fine and astringent; at midpalate, the pulpy taste carries on gracefully. Ends in a strong, zesty manner as the orange peel oils take charge. What’s so winning about this clean, refreshing vodka is its sense of minimalism.

Mazama
Infused Pepper Flavored Vodka
(USA; Bendistillery, Bend, OR)
40% abv,  $27.  9095
SUPERB / Highly Recommended
Piquant, intense, jalapeńo/serrano pepper-like bouquet sasses right from the first nanosecond; aeration adds complexity to the zip as the core aroma highlights hot serrano peppers. Ay carrumba. Palate entry is all sweet green pepper, then midway through the midpalate the hot peppers kick in with a burst of heat that warms but doesn’t char the taste buds. Finishes warm, but not overly piquant.

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Zuidam
Dry Gin
(Holland; Third Coast Importing, Chicago, IL)
44% abv,  $30.  96100
CLASSIC / Highest Recommendation
Wonderful beginning aroma of dried citrus zest/rind; following aeration the bouquet turns steely, spicy and earthy. The palate entry is tart, sublimely orangey and borderline sour; at midpalate the angelica, juniper and cardamom take charge, mingling perfectly with the orange rind. Ends silkily with flashes of orange zest and juniper. First class.

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